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Can your agency charge you fees?

This advice applies to Wales

An employment agency mustn't charge you a fee for finding you work or trying to find you work. The only exception is if you get work from entertainment or modelling agencies. They can charge commission for finding you work and fees for promotional services. You can read more about fees from entertainment agencies on GOV.UK.

Other agencies can only charge you for services like:

  • CV writing
  • providing a uniform
  • cleaning uniforms
  • providing living accommodation
  • providing help with transport
  • providing training
  • DBS checks

The agency mustn't make you buy these services in return for them finding you work.

If a company that isn't the agency pays your wages, they can also make deductions for these services. Talk to an adviser to check if they're allowed to make the deductions.

What information must the agency give you about services it charges for?

If the agency charges you for services, you must be given full written details of what they are. These should include your right to cancel or withdraw from the services.

Your agency should give you a ‘key information document’ before you start with them. This should include things like the minimum hourly amount you should expect to be paid and what specific deductions will be made and why. It will also include information about  any fees you have to pay to an umbrella company. You should get a new document if the key information changes. 

You’re also entitled to a written statement outlining a description of the job, and terms like holiday entitlement, hours of work and sick pay.

Can you cancel services the agency charges you for?

You can cancel any services the agency charges you for without suffering a penalty. These include services for accommodation, transport or training.

Your agreement with the agency should also include how much notice you must give if you want to cancel or withdraw from the service. To make sure you're not charged a penalty you must give the correct notice in writing.

You have to give at least:

  • 30 working days’ notice if you’re cancelling photos from an entertainment agency

  • 10 working days’ notice if you’re cancelling living accommodation

  • 5 working day’s notice for all other services

The agreement may say that you must give the agency more than the minimum notice. You should check your contract to find out what the notice period is.

How do agency services affect your minimum wage

If the agency charges you for accommodation

The agency can take money out of your wages for accommodation it provides so that you can do your job. It is allowed to deduct up to £8.20 each day. This means that your actual pay may be less than the National Minimum Wage once your accommodation costs are taken off.

Example

You are paid £8.72 an hour for a 40-hour week. Your employer deducts £50 for accommodation which is provided 7 days a week. The national minimum wage is £8.72 per hour and the amount allowed for the accommodation deduction is £8.20 per day.

Your weekly pay is £8.72 x 40 hours = £348.80.

The maximum amount the agency is allowed to deduct for accommodation per week is £8.20 x 7 days = £57.40.

Because the amount taken for accommodation falls within the maximum daily amount the agency is allowed to charge, it doesn't count towards reducing your wages.

You will still be classed as being paid the minimum wage of £8.72 per hour even though £50 is deducted from your pay every week for your accommodation and you are actually receiving £348.80 - £50 = £298.80 per week.

If the agency charges you for travel, meals or uniforms

If the agency takes money out of your wages for the following services it must make sure that the deduction does not take your pay below the level of the national minimum wage. Deductions that an agency is allowed to make are:

  • a payment to you to cover your travel costs from your home to the temporary workplace
  • because the agency provides you with meals or refreshments
  • because the agency provides you with a uniform or laundry services.

Taking action if your pay falls below the National Minimum Wage

If the agency takes money out of your wages for travel, meals or uniforms and your pay falls below the National Minimum Wage (NMW), you can write to the agency to remind them that it is against the law to take money out of your wages that will make your pay fall below the NMW level. This may be enough for them to increase your wages.

If you need help to do this, you can ask an experienced adviser to write to the agency without naming you.

If you are not being paid at least the National Minimum Wage or Agricultural Wage and do not want to take action against the agency or the employer, you can make a complaint to the Acas Helpline. They can take up your complaint with the agency without naming you.

Next steps

If you think your agency is taking too much from your pay you can talk to an adviser

You can report a problem with the National Minimum Wage on GOV.UK if you think your employer is breaking the rules.

Other useful information

You can find out more about the minimum wage and unlawful deductions from your wages.

You can get more information about agency fees on the GOV.UK website.

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